“Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil”

The Church in her liturgy presents Lent as a time of ‘grace’; a ‘springtime’ – a time of conversion when we open our eyes or rather let our eyes be opened to all the Lord wants to give us instead of being content to live an impoverished life with eyes half closed.

At every stage of our lives we are always in need of radical conversion, of a change of heart, whereby we turn away from all that alienates us from God – from all that blinds us to His Presence – and open ourselves to receive the Holy Spirit and all His gifts of love, peace and joy so that we become more truly the people He created us to be, always doing the will of our Father. This ‘doing’ of the Father’s will is not so much about our great effort at our doing and achieving – it is rather a ‘let it be done unto me’.

When we look at the example of Jesus and Mary in the Gospel their doing of the Father’s will was more a surrender than the taking of any initiative on their part. Mary’s response to the Angel was ‘be it done unto me according to thy word’. Jesus’ prayer in the garden was ‘Father not my will but Thine be done’. They simply surrendered to what the present moment presented, believing that they were in Someone’s grip. This Someone had a plan which would be revealed moment by moment and they were being invited to surrender, to let go of their own cherished plans.

In today’s Gospel we see Jesus being led by the Spirit into the desert. This abandonment to the Father does not guarantee a life free from suffering (as we see in the lives of Jesus and Mary); neither does it mean that we will necessarily suffer more but when we embrace each moment, with whatever suffering or difficulty it brings, as coming from the hand of One who loves us, then we are held in the embrace of the One who alone can fill us deep peace and joy even in the midst of suffering and hardship.

At times this abandonment may appear like falling off a cliff and into an abyss and yet when we have the courage to let go we can discover that we are standing on a foundation of solid rock – held in the arms of a loving Father.

Because Jesus lived continually in the Presence of His Father, content with whatever each moment brought, He was able to overcome all the temptations of the devil. May He teach us this Lent to live in the present – without regrets about the past or worry for the future. May He grant us the grace to joyfully accept what each moment may bring and so to live in the Presence of Him who loves us so much that He died to restore us to His friendship.